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“65 Mustangs” Pick Your Spots, Spot Starting & Closer-Go-Round Update Week 5.

Here we are at the one month mark. It is that tweaner time when we can’t quite drop established players because of a slow start, though it may be time to cut loose some of the fast starters that we hastily grabbed in the draft or early going that are not panning out going into week 5. It is also still time to search the wire for diamonds in the rough, as not many teams are completely set at every position. Finally, we are almost at the Super Two cut-off for most minor leaguers and that may give us another little crop of contributors soon, along with guys coming back from injury in May. Those two areas are where I would do my research.

This time of year reminds me of three big time “rules of thumb” when it comes to spot starting starting pitchers, as well as the ones you were counting on. We’ve all been through this so you know what I’m talking about.

  1. “Don’t fall in love” – They were likely free agents for a reason. You saw a good match-up or a hot streak or read my article (couldn’t resist that plug) and picked up a guy you were confident would give you a Quality Start. He goes beyond that and pitches a gem with a W and a lot of K’s. The temptation is to keep him in case he throws another. If he is a young phenom or re-habbing guy that youdon't fall in love believe in, that may be different, but for the most part they are journeymen 4th and 5th starters. Unless he is JA Happ, these guys don’t suddenly find new skills that vault them into rosterable SP to rely on. However, in certain match-ups or stadiums or conditions they are more than likely to give you a quality start than not. You just have to get them first. I’m starting to look on Saturday. And if he is a two start pitcher but his 2nd match-up is a negative one, don’t be afraid to drop him after the first start. Some spotters and streamers will drop a spotter right after roster lock time, thus forcing themselves to drop the guy and pick up another before he even pitches, taking away the temptation. Like this week I am having trouble deciding if I want Ubaldo’s 2nd start; his first was OK. (Update: I ended up dropping Ubaldo)
  2. “On the other hand don’t be too hasty” – I tend to draft five dependable SP and then can spot one or two every week. About once or twice every season, a pitcher makes me think he is rosterable and I’d trust him as a #6 enough to not drop him back to the pool. Again, this should be a young phenom or a returning guy who needed some time to figure it out.  For me, this season it has been Matt Latos, who is now my 6th starter on several teams. We have to be realistic, as his velocity is down as is his K rate. But for now he is putting up zero’s, not walking anyone, and racking up the ever elusive W’s. If the wheels fall off, I can drop him, as I did not fall in love per rule #1. Roto with FAAB is tougher, as you have a budget and must plan farther out. I’ll probably draft at least one more dependable starter than in H to H or non FAAB leagues. (Update: Latos got hit pretty hard today)
  3.  “I think it is time to cut bait” – The never ending question:  “Is this guy going to turn it around?” I have Phil Hughes on many teams. I mistakenly fell in love with him and his walk rate when he was a Yankee, but he is damn straight mediocre when I take off the rose colored glasses. He also has never flashed the upside that should make me hold out. What if it is a stud who disappoints in April? Do we keep or drop Michael Pineda? Probably keep. Jake Peavy, likely drop. But I saw a guy in a 12 team Roto League drop Adam Wainwright because his team was last in ERA and Whip. I expect that will continue for him depending on who his replacement(s) is. I think Memorial Day is the final time to give up on established stars. It is exasperating to say the least. You need a suitable interim replacement and room on the bench, but all that is better than watching him win 12 in the 2nd half with an ERA under 3 on someone else’s team. (Update: I dropped Phil Hughes today to get 2 start Jeremy Hellickson into my lineup.)

As always, I’ll choose six or so SP (under 50% owned in both Fantrax and ESPN) that I think are worth a spot start or two in Week 5. Plus I’ll run down the closer rumors and changes from week 4 that plague us all, and there was a lot of activity this week. Lastly I’ll mention a couple of match-ups for next week that I think are must watches for purely baseball reasons.

SPOT STARTS:  Loaded with good 2 start pitchers:

  1. Chris Tilman, SP BAL (19% to 60 % owned) – Vs YANKS TUES & Vs OAK SUN:  He is a bit beyond my ownership threshold in Fantrax and a bit beyond my risk allowance as well, but this looks like a good week for him. He is just coming off 6.2 innings in TB where he gave up no runs on two hits and 2 walks. He struck Christina-Hellman-Chris-Tillman-girlfriend-pictureout a career high 9 batters as well leaving him at a 3.24 ERA, 1.080 WHIP and only 1 HR allowed after 4 starts. Tillman never became the ace, so many (including me) assumed he would, but why can’t we be happy with him as a good #3 SP? He just turned 28 a few days ago and has started over 30 games three years running now, with two of those going 200 innings. He’s got 24 K’s in 25 IP vs only 8 walks. He did have one clunker in his second start where he gave up 6 runs in Texas, though I’m not going to dwell on that. He does have a 4.96 ERA Vs the Yanks but it is only 3.88 in Baltimore where they will likely have an all lefty lineup. These are not the usual Yankees, as they are slumping terribly, and Tillman’s lifetime .253 Avg Vs Lefties is good enough against the Yanks right now, plus he’s only given up 40% of his HR against lefties in the same number of at bats as righties. He has a 2.25 ERA in 5 starts Vs Oakland, whom he gets at home Sunday. Tillman is always a dice roll, but I think the dice are loaded next week. As long as his wife Christina dose not hurt his back.
  2. Jeremy Hellickson, SP PHI (12.5% to 53% owned) – @ STL MON & @ MIA SAT:  This is another guy who big things were expected of that never panned out. He is 29 now hellboy-social-7446eand on his 3rd team in three years. This season he is locked into the Phils rotation and we may see him blossom with less pressure. So far he has an ERA of 3.81 and a nice 1.192 WHIP. He has given up 4 HR, but only 6 walks and 28 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched. Hell-Boy is coming off a gem in whichhellboy he went 7 IP for his 2nd W, giving up two hits and three walks vs eight strikeouts @ Washington. Lifetime he has a 3.68 ERA against STL, though he’s never pitched there, and has a 2.61 ERA in Miami, Vs 3.97 Vs Miami when he was in Chase Field in the desert. He looks so much different as Hellboy. I think his wife Natalie likes this version better.
  3. Bartolo Colon, SP NYM (17.4% to 51% owned) – Vs ATL MON and @ SD SAT:  Can there be any other bartolo-colonmatch-ups that would be better than these two for Bartolo? This season after four starts he has a 3.42 ERA held up by a 3.33 FIP. His K/BB ratio is an impossible 7-1 right now, with 22 K’s vs 3 walks in 23.2 IP. Lifetime he is 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA Vs the Braves and 2-3 with a 4.13 ERA in a handful of games Vs the Padres. Want more good news? Colon has 15 Wins with a 3.62 ERA in 33 Starts at CitiField. No further explanation needed.
  4. Ruby De La rosa, SP, AZ (3% to 36% owned) – @ MIA WEDS:  His 4.18 ERA may not rubby de la rosaexcite you, but it is a full half run lower than 2015 and his FIP is 3.88 on the young season with a 1.099 WHIP. Ruby is 27 and, while I’m not going to suggest he is an Ace, I think he is settling in as a quality MLB pitcher. In 2016 his HR & Walk rates are down and his K rate (28k in 23.2 IP) up so far on the young season, albeit he does have a lower Babip than his career number. He’s also chipped in 3 elusive W’s. The best thing about this start is that Ruby’s GB/FB rate is sitting at an outstanding 1.38, which should help keep Giancarlo Stanton out of the stands. For good measure he has a 2.00 ERA vs Miami in his career.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART:                                                                                                                      
  5. Eddie Butler, SP COL (11% Owned) – @ SD MON & @ SF SUN:  Another two start pitcher with great match-ups, and the first Colorado SP ever to appear on this list. This is the type of leap of faith where you may want to see how he does at SD before deploying him at SF. This 25-year-old is a 1st round draft pick whoseeddie butler minors numbers the last couple years are not impressive in the very hitter friendly Southwest. I think against weaker NL offenses, he’ll put up a QS. Plus, it looks like he’s saying “Awe Shucks”).
  6. Tyler Chatwood, SP COL (5% to 35% owned) – @ SD WED:  The 2nd SP from Colorado to ever appear on this list. The 26-year-old is also on this list due to the match-up. In his last start @ AZ he got a Win with 6.1 shutout innings, no HR allowed, three Walks, five Hits and four K’s. For the season he is 3-2, averaging six innings in five starts, three of them quality. He has 20 K’s vs 7 Walks. Eight of his nine runs were given up in Colorado, including all three of his HR in two starts, while all three of his QS are on the road with one run allowed. He does have a .254 Babip in 2016 vs .300 lifetime, but do you remember 2013 when he had a 3.15 ERA in 20 starts with eight wins?
  7. Almost made the cut: Adam Morgan, PHI @ STL WEDS; Nick Tropeano, LAA @ MIL TUE; Alex Wood, LAD @ TB WED ; Mike Wright, BAL @ NYY THU

Don’t Start: As if you would have anyway, right?

  1. Colby Lewis @ TOR, WEDS: 6.97 ERA in 11 career games vs Tor, 6.38 ERA in Toronto.
  2.  Jon Niese, NYM Vs CHI CUBS, TUE: 4.76 Lifetime ERA vs CHC, plus his HR rate now is 2.2 HR/9. Need more of a reason not to throw him vs CHC
  3. Mike Pelfrey, MIN @ TEX, SAT: 5.32 ERA in 5 games @ TEX.
  4. Andrew Cashner, SD Vs COL, TUE: 6.08 ERA Vs COL though he has an 2.71 ERA at Petco. Do as you wish, I’m benching.

Match Ups of the Week: Some kids getting schooled plus a good match up.

  1. Jordan Zimmerman, DET @ Cole Hamels, TEX, Friday – Makings of a low scorer.
  2. Felix Hernandez, SEA @ Sean Manaea, OAK, Wednesday – School is in.
  3. Dallas Keuchel, HOU @ Jose Berrios, MIN, Tuesday – School is in.
  4. Johnny Cueto, SF @ Brandon Finnigan, CIN Monday – Cueto returns to where he was a star and faces arguably Cinci’s current ace.

Closer Carousel:

A lot happened this past week in the closer ranks and set-up ranks.

  1. Huston Street, LAA got hurt. What do you mean you are not surprised? It is a strained oblique, which could last the minimum 15 days or linger into infinity and beyond. Joe Smith is the obvious replacement, no mystery here. The only mystery would be if you found him on your wire. He was available in two of my five leagues. One guy even tried to trade him to me.
  2. Glen Perkins is not back yet, so Kevin Jepson is still the closer in Min. Trevor May should also be owned as a handcuff.
  3. The A’s are still laughingly calling Sean Doolittle a co-closer in OAK with Ryan
    madsonMadson.
    REALLY? Madson got his 8th save today while Doolittle has two, from week two.
  4. Jeanmar Gomez is holding his own in Philly, even though he is putting runners on base to make it interesting. Andrew Bailey is in the majors. Nothing would surprise me, so both should be owned.jeanmar gomez
  5. Some new names emerged in the Cincinnati closer battle with Caleb Cotham being mentioned, as predicted here last week, and now Ross Ohlendorf is added to the mix, trying to unseat the saveless Tony Cingrani. I own Tony on some teams, but there is no reason to roster anyone else. This is still a black hole with the way the team is playing.
  6. Some names have re-emerged on the CLEW* front. Carson Smith, BOS is scheduled to come off the DL. I’m not predicting instant success, nor that Craig Kimbrel should start to worry, though I bet it won’t be long before Smith is in high leverage situations as Boston imagined when they traded for him. In Colorado, Adam Ottavino should be up soon as well, though I don’t think Jake Mcgee is in any imminent danger from a pitcher coming off Tommy John Surgery with 4 career saves. But Adam has sniffed the closer’s role before, so he is a lifetime member of the CLEW* Club.  
  7. Fernando Rodney is still the closer in SD. Just sayin, lol.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    *CLEW= Closer en Waiting

See you all next week and Happy Spotting.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 28th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #11 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our Thursday night show will do some weekly recaps, player updates, and preview the coming week-end games.

Our guests this week are Corey D Roberts and Hernan Batista. Corey is the owner of majorleaguefantasysports.com, and the host of the Sunday Night show from 7-9pm EST. Hernan is long time fantasy baseball veteran and frequent guest on our shows.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday May 1st, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Every week we will do a quick recap of Fr-Sat games, and a forecast of Monday through Thursday’s games.

Our guests this week are Mark Rush and Jesse Ellison. Jesse is a good child hood friend mine, fantasy baseball fan, and is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction which he founded in 2011. I encourage everyone to check out his organization. Mark is the Professor of politics and law at Washington & Lee University, an author, writer, and a frequent guest on National Public Radio as well as the Arabian News Network. Mark was part of the writing staff at Ron Shandler’s old site shandlerpark.com. Since Ron shut that project down Mark has joined our writing staff here at majorleaguefantasysports.com, and does some editing.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.

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